Scottish Borders activations

Friday 12th September 2014 GM/SS-199 Blackwood Hill

We park in an oversided passing place at NY514932 and headed through the gate nearly opposite the parking bearing left off the track to follow a fence on the right which was roughly followed much of the way up Arnton Fell until the fence headed right and we headed left to climb to the trig point on Arnton Fell. There were some views so we took some photos, but it was becoming increasingly hazy. The trig point isn’t the summit, or even in the activation area. We could see the tree edge on the top of Blackwood Hill in the distance and headed towards it soon regaining the fence.

Arton Fell trig point - not a SOTA - Blackwood Hill is in background

The Blackwood Hill summit is basically rough grass on one side and trees on the other – the summit cairn being near the trees. We set up near the summit with Caroline using a convenient fence post to support the MFD. She struggled to make VHF contacts, just getting Karen 2E0XYL who was at the base of Hallin Fell, but had a good run on 40m after Martyn had qualified the hill on 60m.

Blackwood Hill Summit - cairn is small pile of stones behind antenna

We then packed up and headed along the fence to where it turned north, where we headed west steeply downhill to pick up a track. Although not providing any navigational challenges, it was getting mistier, and we couldn’t pick out Hermitage Castle on the other side of the valley. Once past Roughly and its lake we realised that time was getting tight to get back to the car before dark, so we crossed the shallow valley, and followed a rough track contouring round the hill. Where the track ended, we followed sheep tracks which eventually took us back to our outbound path, and we followed the fence down arriving back at the car as the light faded.

Saturday 13th September 2014 GM/SS-148 Meikle Says Law

It started misty in the morning but the forecast was for it to clear later. Our destination for the day were the Lammermuir hills – a moderate and necessarily somewhat circuitous drive but with 3 summits to choose between. We hoped to do two, but left the decision of which one to do first until we were closer. Visibility improved as we drove towards the hills, and there looked to be some hunting/shooting activity on Dirrington Great Law, so we made the highest point of the Lammermuirs, Meikle Says Law SS-148 our target.

We were alone as we parked on the rough parking area opposite the track to Faseny Cottage, but were soon joined by two more cars. There was still distant mist but we could at least see the outlines of the hill. The walk started with a steep downhill section past remote Faseny Cottage to cross a footbridge over FasenyWater before climbing back up the other side towards Little Says Law. There was then a good high level track for a while, but it faded before Little Says Law itself and we had to hack our way over rough heathery ground to pick up the ridge fence which had faint signs of a path. We also heard Robin GM7PKT on Ben Lui, and quickly worked him on the handheld / rucksack antenna. We followed the fence to the trig point on Meikle Says Law.

There were others at the trig point, so we headed for the slightly boggier ground by the fence, which allowed Caroline to use a fence post to support the VHF antenna. There was plenty of flat but heathery ground for the HF antenna. After working Robin for a S2S Caroline quickly got 2 more 2M FM contacts, but then it all went quiet. Martyn found 5MHz slow, getting 7 contacts, by which time Caroline had eaten lunch and waiting to take over the HF dipole to qualify the hill on 7MHz. Martyn then tried 14MHz getting 9 more contacts. We got reasonable views, but distant views were obscured by the mist. After lunch we packed up and headed back down Dun Side, starting off on a faint path, and losing it occasionally before joining one of the well-made tracks, getting better views of the Faseny valley as we headed back to the unwelcome final steep re-ascent to the car parking.

Saturday 13th September 2014 GM/SS-253 Black Hill

Did we have time to do Spartleton? It seemed tight but we decided to drive round by it to take a look. We drove round to the reported parking at NT646642 by the Whiteadder reservoir. The parking space was very small – just about space to get the car off the road, but not comfortably. Reluctantly we decided that time was really just too tight, and instead headed back towards the Black Hill near Earlsdon SS-253, since it looked to only have about a 1 mile walk in and 200m ascent, so we might just fit it in before dark.

As we parked in the layby by the footpath sign at NT580372 our target was clearly visible. We took the almost flat path running between a woodland strip and horse pasture which took us to a right turn to pleasant green lane which at least started heading gently upwards towards the hill. At the end of the lane the footpath headed left around the hill, but we headed straight on to attach the hill finding the odd sheep path, but mostly just picking our way up steeply towards the hill fort at the top. The ramparts could be vaguely made out and the gradient eased and the trig point came into sight. It was still misty in the distance but we could make out the distinctive outline of the Eildon Hills. The summit had a number of metal poles, mostly at odd angles, but one was vertical enough for Caroline to use it to support the MFD though VHF only yielded 2 contacts. Martyn set up the HF dipole a little way down the hill. After Martyn had qualified the hill with 7 5MHz contacts, Caroline took over the HF rig to qualify the hill with 18 contacts in less than 15 minutes on 7MHz. Thankful to have qualified the hill reasonably quickly we packed up and made it back to the car before it got dark.

Black Hill with the Eildon Hills behind.

Sunday 14th September 2014 GM/SS-082 Capel Fell & GM/SS-074 Ettrick Pen

We woke to find another misty morning, with a forecast for the mist to lift later, and better in the south west. It looked like it might be our best bet for doing the Ettrick Horseshoe, taking in Capel Fell SS-082 and Ettrick Pen SS-074. We headed out through Selkirk and down the long B road into Ettrick, then down to the end of the single track road through the Ettrick Valley. There were two cars already in the limited parking cum turning area at the end, but we squeezed in without blocking any gates. Disappointingly the clouds were still on the hill, but we decided to have faith and go for it anyway.

We headed on the forest track running up the valley between Bushie Law and Pot Law which gently climbed up the valley to emerge onto Bught Hill. After leaving the forest we were soon into the cloud with low visibility, and ended up climbing higher than intended by following the ridge by Bodesbeck Law before following the fence line downhill. It was somewhat dispiriting to be losing all the hard earned height, especially as we dropped below the cloud and could soon see just how much height we had to lose. We had wondered if we could have taken a path shown on the map as coming out on the col by Pot Burn, but there was no sign of it on the ground or a break in the trees for it to have come from. The pattern of gaining height and then losing it continued, which combined with rough ground underfoot made for hard slow going. At least the clouds had now lifted off the tops of the hills, so we got some idea of the surrounding countryside, though it was still cloudy. We also had a meandering fence line to follow as we headed up over Fauldside Hill, down again and up again over White Shank, down and up again over Smidhope Hill before a final ascent to Capel Fell SS-082.

Capel Fell

The summit was marked by stick at the centre of a tiny cairn just on the other side of the fence. We didn’t bother to cross the fence since the undulating ascent had taken longer than we had hoped and we needed both lunch and to get on with the activation. Caroline made use of a convenient fence post to support the MFD, and this was one of the few hills qualified on VHF, starting with 4 contacts in 20 minutes and ending with an S2S with Rob G4RQJ on Pike O’Blisco with a good run on 7MHz in between. The flat grassy top had plenty of space for HF, and Martyn qualified the hill on 5MHz. We also hoped to do Ettrick Pen, but weren’t sure we had time, so gave 14MHz a miss on Capel Fell. We dropped down SE towards the Southern Upland Way, still following the fence. At the SUW we decided we would carry on with the Ettrick Horseshoe, even if we didn’t have time to do the activation. It was still cloudy and hazy in the distance, but we were getting reasonable views to the walk was worth doing anyway. Yet another up, still following the fence onto Wind Fell which gave wider views to the east. We still had more undulations to go, down and then up Hopetoun Craig and down and then up again on the Ettrick Pen the highest point of the walk.

Ettick Pen

After some mental calculations of the time taken for the return to the car we decided we did have time for an activation. This summit at least had a large cairn – again just the other side of the fence. Caroline could again use a convenient fence post as VHF antenna support while Martyn set up the HF dipole on the large flattish area of rough grass. Despite this being the highest hill of the week, Caroline managed only a single VHF contact, so after Martyn had got 11 5MHz contacts in 20 minutes, Caroline did a rapid fire 7MHz activation getting 19 contacts in just over 10 minutes. With no more takers for a couple of minutes we packed up. We headed off in a westerly direction finding a path which took us steeply down the hill to the end of a track by the Entertrona Burn, following that track down to Over Phawhope. We passed the bothy there to pick up the SUW which here ran along a massive forestry road back to the end of the public road where we were parked. The weather was at its best at the end of the day, though still cloudy. We realised that we hadn’t seen anybody else all day on our walk – a Sunday when we had the hills to ourselves.

Monday 15th September 2014 GM/SS-212 Meigle Hill & GM/SS-211 Sell Moor Hill

The forecast wasn’t good with rain expected. We decided to risk the relatively small Meigle Hill SS-212. Galashiels proved to be a complex of one way streets and roadworks and we seemed to do a tour of most of it before finding our parking in a residential street opposite a park on the edge of Galashiels at NT483366. It was not raining, but the clouds were down on the hills as we headed on the track past the reservoir and filter station and along the path which roughly followed the fence line up the hill. The path was muddy and slippery in places, and the only other people we saw were dog walkers. We climbed into the clouds at around 300m, and it got increasingly damp in the air, eventually turning to drizzle. There are several antennas at the summit (the map shows two, but I think there are three), but we only saw the pair which are closest to the trig point, and at times they were barely visible from the trig point.

Our antenna doesn’t show up against the fog!

Given the dampness and the likely poor VHF take off Caroline decided it wasn’t worth putting the MFD up and getting the FT-817 wet, so just called fruitlessly on the handheld using the rucksack antenna until Martyn had qualified with 7 5MHz QSOs when she moved over to qualify the hill with another rapid run of 27 contacts in 20 minutes on 7 MHz. The dampness turned to rain, and we decided that a late lunch was better than a soggy lunch, so left lunch in the rucksacks. For some reason we decided to give 14MHz a quick go despite the weather which yielded Martyn 14 contacts including 2 transatlantic.

We packed up and headed back down the hill in the steady rain. Back at the car, having extracted lunch we dumped the rucksacks in the boot and ate lunch in the rapidly steaming up back seat, during which time the rain turned torrential. Hmmm, perhaps we needed a wet weather program – there are stately homes in the area, but they didn’t appeal. We had 3G coverage, so checked the weather forecast which suggested that the worst of the rain would be over by mid-later afternoon. We needed food, so Galashiels Tescos became our wet weather program.

It was still raining when we came out, but not as heavy, so after yet another circuit of Galashiels one way system, we headed north up the A7 and along the B6362 to the layby by the cattle grid at NT482456, the starting point for Sell Moor Hill SS-211. It was very damp and drizzly, and we were in the clouds with visibility of only a 100yards or so. The waterproofs went on us and the rucksacks and we set off southwards on the rough ground to the east of the trees. This soon brought us to a corner with a mess of walls and fences, including some barbed wire. While we were working out how to deal with this obstacle, we observed some impressive looking horns projecting over one of the walls, and it didn’t take long to realise that they were in the field which headed towards the true summit. Hmm, perhaps we should try the field to the east of the summit which also contained some of the activation area. The problem with that was that we couldn’t see any sane way over the wall/fence in that direction, but could work a way diagonally over into the field containing a fine set of Highland Cattle which avoided the barbed wire. Although the cattle showed some interest in us, we managed to skirt round them and head south parallel to the fence, using it as a navigational aid in the fog. We passed through one gate and were looking for the next field boundary since the trig point was shown as straddling it. It turned out to be a very broken down wall which we almost missed in the fog, but once located we didn’t have to follow it far before the trig point appeared out of the gloom. The broken down wall provided something to sit on. Everything was damp, but the rain was mostly light. Caroline again didn’t bother with the MFD, and just called on the rucksack antenna while Martyn set up the HP dipole. Caroline did manage a single 2m FM contacts. Martyn had a better run on 5MHz getting 14 contacts before Caroline took over the HF dipole for another good run of 28 contacts on 7MHz. Martyn tried 14MHz, but conditions were not as good as earlier and he only managed 6 contacts. We then just had to pack up and retrace our steps, making our way past the cattle again before negotiating the wall/fence again.

Tuesday 16th September 2014 GM/SS-214 Eildon Mid Hill & GM/SS-210 Rubers Law

A better day was forecast but the clouds were still on the hills as we drove to Melrose, and parked in the car park near the ruined abbey – the only time we paid for car parking on the holiday.

We walked back through the town square with a fine display of flowers, and then up the B6359 road. The footpath to the Eildon Hills heads left off this, down an unlikely narrow alleyway between houses (thankfully signed Eildon Walk). This led us behind some houses, before turning to climb a long flight of steps, which soon had us well warmed up. At the end of the steps a more gently graded enclosed path headed towards Eildon North Hill, and we chatted briefly with another walker who was doing St Cuthbert’s Way and had paused for breath. North Hill was straight in front and clear of cloud, but Mid was still cloud topped. The path led to the open hill, where there was some confusion as to which was the right path – we thought half right from the map to get to the col between Mid and North Hills, but St Cuthbert’s Way was signed fully right. We took the half right and the St Cuthbert’s Way walker took the other, but we found ourselves meeting up again before getting to the col.

By now the cloud had lifted off both hills, and views were opening up, though still with distant mist. We headed up Mid Hill SS-214 taking the left hand path – both looked steep. At the top was a toposcope and the trig point, and decent views, some of the best of the week. There were quite a lot of walkers around, so although we had the top to ourselves when we arrived, had to take care to fit the HF dipole on the relatively small summit without blocking any of the paths. In the end nobody else visited the summit when we were there. Caroline supported the MFD on the trig point but only managed 3 VHF contacts before taking over the HF dipole after Martyn had got 8 5MHz contacts. Caroline had another good 7MHz run of 22 contacts. While Martyn was getting another 8 contacts on 14MHz Caroline managed another VHF contact to qualify the hill on 2m.

North Eildon from Eildon Mid Hill

It was a pleasant activation, and after having lunch we continued the walk getting some of the best views of the week, descending back to the col and then up the more gently graded North Hill. After failing to find much in the way of evidence of the Roman Signal Station we headed off ENEish to find an enclosed track which came out on a wide road which was gated a couple of hundred yards to the right. We turned right onto the road then soon left on another track that took us down to the A68, which was safely crossed to take us under a disused railway bridge. By now the sun was shining brightly with dappled light shining onto the pleasant wooded path that meandered into the village of Newstead. From there we took an unlikely looking path between stables which led to the pleasant but narrow “Priorswalk” running above the edge of the flood plain. A brief section through a housing estate led to another path which took us to a park with views of the ruined abbey and so back to the car.

It was now mid-afternoon, and we wanted to do another hill to make the most of the better weather, but we had done the two closest easy summits yesterday. The choice was between Rubers Law SS-210 and Belling Hill SS-244, both to the south. We went for Rubers Law which looked the more interesting, but also looked to have the least well defined parking and the longest walk in. We pulled in off the single track road near a gate at NT596153, where there was also a farmer’s truck, and a shepherd dealing with a large number of sheep in a pen behind the gate. We asked if it was OK to park where we had (it wasn’t blocking his access) and he said it was OK. The sun was still out, with distant mist, and we should have time to activate Rubers Law. There was however one problem – the mass of sheep completely blocking access to the track for Rubers Law which runs parallel to the road before heading towards the hill. We walked along the road to the point where the track turned towards the hill, and at that point fought our way through vegetation to get to the track. We followed the gently ascending track through a few gates onto the open hill, where we picked our way over increasingly steep rough ground, ascending through the clearly visible ramparts of the hill fort.

The bright white painted trig point was glistening in the sunshine as we worked out where to set up: it appears to be loved by the “Borders Exploration Group” who have a plaque explaining their work attached to it. There was no one else around and we expected the summit to be quiet, so Caroline set up for VHF using the trig point but only managed two contacts. Martyn found some slightly less rocky ground a little lower for HF and found 5MHz in reasonable shape getting 12 contacts before Caroline took over on 7MHz getting 22 contacts including one S2S with a German summit which Martyn also grabbed. We didn’t have time to do 14MHz. The summit turned out to rather busier than Eildon Mid Hill, with several groups visiting. We had reasonable close views, but distant views were still hazy, and by the time we were heading back down the mist was beginning to increase again as the sun dropped. Thankfully the sheep were no longer penned by the gate on our return and we could simply walk down the track back to the car. We definitely made the most of the day, with two attractive and interesting hills.

Hi Caroline,
I enjoyed reading your stories and looking at the photos this morning as I sipped on my first coffee of the day.
I’m glad I didn’t have to carry up those trig points. We have a similar shaped one on Mt Macedon but the surveyor must have made an error reading the plan and built it 30 ft high instead of 4 ft.


Wednesday 17th September 2014 GM/SS-168 Law Kneis 498m & GM/SS-179 Cacra Hill

The forecast wasn’t good, with fog and rain due to come from the east. So heading SW looked best so we headed through Selkirk to the B road down into Ettrick. We were somewhat delayed by road works in Selkirk
resulting in a 2 miles diversion though much of Selkirk with the diversion also having road works with traffic light controlled single line working: not good planning! Our plan was to do Law Kneis SS-168 followed by Ward Law SS-119.

The clouds were still hovering on the tops of the slightly higher hills including Ward Law as we parked in the car park at NT279631, but our first target was the slightly lower Law Kneis. At least it wasn’t raining. We headed over the millennium project bridge and along a forest road which ascended at a very gentle gradient through felled forest. It was heading north and the summit was east. We believed the track would eventually loop back closer to the summit, but it looked a long way, and we wanted a quicker way up. After a few hundred yards we found a rough overgrown track which looked as though it might zigzag up the hill, but it soon levelled out and disappeared into boggy felled forest. We decided to try going straight up between the remains of the felled trees – very hard work through tangled branches, and eventuallycame to another overgrown track which did head up the hill diagonally. It wasstill hard work with fallen branches and roots, but eventually we clambered through a final area of thicker vegetation onto a proper forest road. This gave easier but only gently ascending walking as we headed back roughly south on it, following it to a long right curve.

Three forest rides headed left off the curve and we wanted the middle one, which involved a steep and tricky (due to overhanging branches) clamber off the forest road. Then it was straight up the forest ride for a bit – easier said than done, as it was full of a mixture of long grass, some boggy bits, some tussocky bits and general awkwardness. Eventually the ground levelled out and started to descend slightly, but we weren’t in the activation area yet and were looking for a forest ride heading right. After a little descent, there it was, but it looked to more seriously blocked by fallen trees. We managed to find ways round or through them, but it was slow progress, and we were initially glad when we could see the edge of the trees. We were now in the activation area, but wanted to find the summit, despite the ground out of the trees being worse than the rides – deep tussocky grass with bits of heather and occasional small trees. We headed left and made our way to what appeared to be the indistinct highest point.

Law Kneis

We were at least out of the clouds and it wasn’t raining, but the ground was very wet and sufficiently uneven to make setting up the station a challenge. There were the remains of a broken down fence, and Caroline used a post to support the VHF vertical dipole, while Martyn set up HF nearby – we were going to need HF, as Caroline once again failed to qualify on VHF, 20 minutes calling yielding 1 contact though Martyn only got 5 5MHz contacts in a similar time before they dried up. Caroline then went onto 7MHz for the best run of the week – 43 contacts in half an hour including a Swiss S2S also grabbed by Martyn. Martyn then went onto 14MHz which also seemed in good shape getting 21 contacts, during which time Caroline managed to rustle up one more VHF contact. That was an activation falling into the category “rubbish hill, good radio”.

With lunch eaten we needed to descend, and after a little trouble finding the end of the ascent ride we retraced our steps back to the curve on the forest road. We had intended to do Ward Law afterwards, and as we walked back along the slowly descending forest road we could now see the large cairn on its summit now the clouds had lifted a bit. However a quick mental calculation caused us to realise that we didn’t have time left to the relatively long walk in to it. We might have time to do the shorter walk onto Cacra Hill if we could get back to the car reasonably quickly, but the option was between the retracing the horrible ascent route through the felled area, or a much longer track walkout. As we got to the edge of the felled area, we realised that there might be a way down the edge of the trees. That was steep but OK until we got to the end of the standing trees. More fighting over felled trees until we came to the remains of a track – the better section of the one we had used on the way up – which we followed to its end. At that point we decided to just head through the felled trees heading the shortest possible way back to the forest road – hard work with a tricky descent down the embankment onto the road, but then an easy march back to the car.

We probably just had time to do Cacra Hill SS-179, so drove there as quickly as the winding narrow roads allowed, parking on the area of hard standing near the cattle grid at NT318163, being careful not to block the track. We followed the track uphill - it goes further then shown on the 1:25000 map but winds quite a bit, especially after passing through the fence onto the open hill. We followed it for a bit, but then decided it was going too far out of the way given the limited time, so cut up the rough ground – not easy going, but a lot easier than Law Kneis! Cacra has a long large activation area, and given our lack of time we decided to set up stations on the 466 spot height rather than going all the way to the 471 summit. We had reasonable but cloudy views of Ettrick, and could see better looking weather in the far west – going west had been the right thing to do, but we hadn’t really managed to go far enough west! Caroline failed to get any contacts at all on VHF, but had a good run of 28 QSOs on 7MHz after Martyn had got 15 on 5MHz. We had no time for 14MHz, and descended roughly the same way (finding slightly more track on descent), getting back to the car with a little daylight to spare.

Cacra Hill

Thursday 18th September 2014 GM/SS-119 Ward Law & GM/SS-140 Turner Cleuch Law

The forecast was similar to yesterday, better in the west, but still cloudy and with possible rain. It was again misty when we got up, so we followed the Selkirk diversion and headed back down into Ettrick again. As yesterday the clouds were on the hilltops as we drove down the valley, but we hoped they would lift a bit as they did yesterday.

Our first target was Ward Law SS-119, and we parked by the church at NT260145. It was dry as we set off, finding the path which ran north of the church, being signed through the farm to the open hill. Initially the track was reasonable defined, but it soon became less clear, and after a while we realised we were heading too far towards Craig Hill, and headed right off of it, finding difficult terrain with boggy sections with head height coarse grasses which made everything wet. Eventually we found a bit of another track running along the valley side well above the steam. The clouds seem to be coming down the hill rather than lifting and when we got to Clark Sike we decided to leave what path there was, and take a more direct route then our original plan to head over Rig Head which had already disappeared into the clouds. Crossing Clark Sike was a bit of a challenge, and followed by another crossing of Cat Cleuch, but after that we just headed upwards, soon encountering the cloud. In poor visibility we just headed up. We knew we should be trying to find the large cairn we had seen from Law Kneis yesterday, but visibility was less than 100m. Eventually we came across a cairn, but it wasn’t big enough to be the summit cairn – it had to be the one shown south of the summit on the map, so we headed north and soon a more impressive cairn appeared next to a deer fence and stile.

Ward Law

It was a very damp atmosphere with some drizzle and occasional light rain. We couldn’t see from one end of the HF dipole to the other. Caroline used one of the fence posts near the stile to support the VHF antenna, operating standing up to avoid sitting on the wet ground. Caroline only managed 3 contacts on 2m FM, so after Martyn had qualified on with 6 contacts on 5MHz, Caroline went onto 7MHz to qualify the hill with 18 contacts. After Martyn had eaten lunch he finished the activation with 9 14MHz contacts – radio conditions not as good as yesterday. The weather didn’t get any better, so we took a compass bearing and headed off down the hill, eventually dropping down below the clouds to get a view of the valley of the Kirk Burn. This time we decided to cross the burn below the confluence of Cat Cleugh and Clark Sike which proved to be an easier crossing than outbound. There was then an area of long wet grass to cross before we made our way back up to the rough track, joining it near sheepfolds we had passed on the outbound route. Although the path disappeared in boggy areas at times we managed to follow a better line back, picking it up between bogs, and getting views down onto the church as we dropped back down to the car.

The church looked as though it could be interesting, but we were running late and wanted to do another hill so gave it a miss. The only SOTA summit left in the area with reasonably quick access was Turner Cleuch Law SS-140. The clouds were still topping the hills as we parked in the small layby at NT283213. We headed north up the road to just before the bridge over Wolf Cleuch, from where we found a slightly overgrown track heading up the spur of the hill. This took us through a bracken area and continued heading up the hill passing an impressive cairn a little way to our right. As we ascended the track took us closer to the trees and became fainter, more easily graded, boggier and
rougher, eventually disappearing. By now we were back in the clouds, but within half an hour of leaving the car we found the fence that runs over the summit, following it to the highest point. Caroline set up the MFD using a fence post for support and was rewarded with zero 2mFM contacts, so after Martyn had qualified the hill with 7 contacts on 5MHz she went onto 7MHz for a good run of 30 contacts, during which time Martyn flipped the MFD to SSB where he managed a solitary contact. We had started the activation in the clouds but they lifted just enough to give hazy views by the time we left. We didn’t have time to do 14MHz on this hill, returning the same way, pausing only to take a closer look at the well-constructed cairn on the way down.

Turner Cleuch Law

Friday 19th September 2014 G/TW-003 Gisborough Moor

We had booked a night in an apartment in Thornaby on Tees to break out journey back home, to allow us to activate some of the North York Moors summits. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t being cooperative and despite re-arranging our day to try to be on the hills in the best of the weather, this meant we only got damp instead of being soaked!

It was mid-afternoon by the time we reached Guisborough. We parked in a wide residential road at NZ619152, and headed SE on the narrowing road which turned into a path before entering the access area woods, where we followed the public footpath as it meandered southwards through the woods. We were walking in the clouds well before leaving the woods – it was very damp – not raining but with water condensing out of the air! At the edge of the woods the visibility was about 50m, and we decided to head for the relatively nearby trig point, rather than the less well marked true summit (4m higher and about a mile way). We turned right onto a rough path along the edge of the woods which took us to a track heading left, which took us to the trackside trig point.

There was nobody else around (though we had seen dog walkers and joggers in the woods), so we set up by the trig point, Caroline strapping the MFD to the trig point and Martyn setting the HF dipole the other side of the track. For the first time Caroline easily qualified the hill on 2m FM while Martyn had a reasonable run on 5MHz. We swapped stations but Caroline found 7MHz less good than earlier in the week, while Martyn managed just one 2m SSB contact. Another swap got Martyn a difficult 5 contacts on 14 MHz, while Caroline got another 4 on 2m FM. Everything was wet from condensation, so we packed up and retraced our steps.


Saturday 20th September 2014 G/TW-001 Urra Moor - Round Hill

The weather forecast was again suggesting that the clouds would left and the rain go later in the day – by the time we needed to be on our way south back home. It was again cloudy with light drizzle as we left the apartment before 10am, and less than half an hour later we were parking in the Clay Bank car park which was on the edge of the cloud level. We packed our lunch, donned waterproofs and set off. Before we had left the car park we were hailed by the occupant of the hot food van – are you doing SOTA? Yes we said, and he told us he was a newly licenced M6, but had unfortunately left his radio at home.

We headed south on the B1257 to a track which we took. It soon turned east as we hoped, but we then realised that there was a wall between us and the Cleveland Way where we wanted to be, but found an area where others were awkwardly clambering over so we followed. After a little bit of ascent we were then into the clouds and it was raining intermittently. There were quite a lot of other people out in the Cleveland Way given the poor conditions. There should have been good views, but there weren’t! We followed the Cleveland Way passing boundary stones and Grouse Butts. The trig point isn’t far of the main path, but we correctly assumed it wouldn’t be visible from the main path, so took a minor path left which meandered round to the trig point proudly on a grassy mound.

It was raining and everything was wet, and there was an irritatingly chilly wind, but we decided to set up properly. Caroline again used the trig point (and nobody else visited while we were there), finding that there was one position in which the pillar itself offered some wind/rain protection, while Martyn tried to find the most sheltered area in the heather for the HF dipole – not entirely successfully. Martyn found 5MHz slow but managed to qualify the hill, while Caroline got 5 contacts on 2m FM. Caroline then went onto 7MHz, but found that slow as well – only 8 contacts on a Saturday. Another swap brought Caroline another 4 2m FM contacts – not often getting more contacts on 2m FM than 40m SSB. Martyn found 14MHz equally slow getting just 8 contacts there. By now we had eaten lunch, and were cold and wet, so we packed up and retraced our steps.

As we were descending from Carr Ridge we stopped to talk to walkers on their way up when suddenly there was a brief break in the clouds as they swirled away to give us a glimpse of the views to Ingleby Bank with Roseberry Topping in the distance. We got more glimpses as we continued down the Cleveland Way to the road, and from the car park viewpoint.

Urra Moor trig point

The weather could definitely have been better but we made the most of the conditions and our time to do 16 activations with 15 uniques for both of us.